Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lunar Photography Attempt

It has been a while since I have made a post, but I have not had any photographs to post.  I have been having very few chances to photograph any wildlife.  So I decided to change gears a bit, and I tried to photograph the full moon about a week ago.  It has been a long time since I had done it, and since the last time I have gotten a better tripod and a gimbal head. So it was definitely easier this time around.  I was using my Bower 650-1300 mm lens for this though; because it is the only lens I have that can get close up to the moon.  I kind of wish I had a telescope I could hook my camera up too.  I was happy with the photographs but wish I had a better lens.  The Bower lens is not high quality, but for the price it’s great for me.  So because of the quality of the lens the photographs are more pixilated in my opinion.  After I took the photographs I did some processing, and maybe even too much processing, but I think they came out good.  My favorite thing about them is that if you look close enough you can see the craters, which you can’t see when you’re taking the photographs.  I think the next moon photograph I want to try is a crescent moon to see the difference from the full moon.  But I need a clear night to try it. 

Even though it has been a slow couple of months for me wildlife wise, I am looking forward to the winter.  I am hoping that this winter will be another productive eagle winter.  Last year I managed some of the best eagle photographs that I had ever taken.  I’m really excited that there migration will start soon.  I spend a lot of early mornings trying to take a photograph of these magnificent birds of prey.  But with my limited budget it makes it very difficult to photograph them.  Most of my long range photographs are taken with a manual focus lens.  So it is almost impossible to capture them in flight.  However last winter I did manage some flying shots with my 250mm lens.  The eagles came extremely close though, and that does not happen all the time.

I have seen several eagles lately and I hope that I continue to start seeing higher numbers.  I can’t wait, and I will try and post as often as I can over the winter about all my sightings.  Until next time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Productive Outings

Finally I am starting to have some productive photography trips.  The last few I have been on were great.  The fall foliage is at its peak and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.   My most recent trip was the most productive.  I made my way to the Bashakill Wetlands and was hoping to find some warblers and other fall migrant birds.  I did get a glimpse at a few of them but didn’t manage a good photo.  Once I decided that birding was not going well, I changed to photographing insects.  I managed a couple shots of dragonflies and butterflies.  Most didn’t come out due to the harsh natural lighting.  There were no clouds and it made it very hard to control lighting.  After a while I remembered I had extension tubes in my camera bag, so I put two of the three on.  That’s when I saw this little jumping spider crawling up a boulder.  The spider was probably about the size of a pencil eraser.  The spider didn’t sit still very long so I only managed a few shots before he hopped off into the grass and disappeared.  I was pleased with the shot but I wish I could have gotten closer.  

While I was home after this I realized that maybe if I added the extension tubes and then attached my small lens reversed it might actually get me more magnification than I had with my 250 mm with the extension tubes on.  I plan on running a test to see if adding extension tubes to a reversed lens lets you stay a little further from the subject.  I’m hoping this is the case because with the reversed lens you have to get so close to the subject that it’s almost impossible to do, because the wild animals don’t stay when you get that close.  I hope that the upcoming week is as good as this one.  I hope everyone enjoys the photographs.  Until next time.    

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dragonflies and Snakes

I know it has been almost three months with no posts, but I finally had a productive trip last week.  I spent several days at Hickok Brook multiple use area and was pleased to find an abundance of dragonflies.  I did manage to photograph several different colored dragonflies but one stood out.  It was very different than I have ever seen.  Its wings were segmented with white lines instead of black.  I plan on going back there soon to try and capture some more dragonfly photographs.

Hopefully I will get a few sunny days and the rain will stay away.  Also I'm posting a photograph of what I believe is a garter snake but it may be a ribbon snake.  That photograph was taken at the Bashakill Wetlands a while back and was never downloaded off my camera, so I figured I would include it.

It seems like everywhere I go I run into a few snakes.  Hope I never run into any poisonous ones.  Although a photograph of a rattlesnake would be cool, I think I would rather not see any.   I'm hoping that my next trips are as productive as the last.  Hope you enjoy the photographs.  Until next time.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unproductive Outings

It has been a while since I have posted but I have not been able to manage any photographs lately.  I have been on many trips and have been seeing a lot of different species of birds and animals but have not been able to manage a good photograph.  I have been to the Bashakill Wetlands several times and the numbers there have dropped in the recent weeks.  I did see some Great Blue Heron's and several different duck species.  However none were close enough to get a shot.  This week I went out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge at the Liberty Loop Trail and I could not get close enough to anything.  I did see a few Heron's, mallards, and a lot of sandpipers in the back section of shallow water.  I also saw the common suspects for this time of year included red wing black birds, sparrows, and robins.  I am hoping to start seeing more colorful birds in the coming weeks.  I would love a photograph of some cedar wax wings or even warblers or Baltimore oriels.  Hopefully soon one of my trips will be productive and I can get some new photographs uploaded.  Until Next Time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bashakill Wetlands and Black Dirt Region Trips

Last week was a fun week.  I took several trips to the Bashakill Wetlands and out to the black dirt region of Orange County.  I saw a ton of different animals while out.  In the black dirt region there were tons of Canadian geese and snow geese in fields.  None close enough for me to photograph.  Also in the black dirt region there were a lot of different species of hawks.   Red wing black birds were also plentiful in the area.  However I did not see many species of ducks.  On the way back home from Orange County I pulled over to photograph two mute swans on a frozen pond.  That almost turned out to be a mistake because a state trooper pulled me over when I got back on the road.  Thankfully he was just checking to make sure I was not broken down.  He didn't realize there were mute swans on the pond where I was pulled over.  When he realized that I was photographing the swans and he saw my camera, we had a long conversation about photography.  I’m just happy the swan photographs didn't cost me a ticket.  

On several trips to the Bashakill Wetlands I saw plenty of wildlife, which has only gotten better every week due to the ice melting.  I did get to see my first Great Blue Heron of the year.  He was hiding in the reeds which didn't make for the best photographs.  Also at the Bashakill I have been seeing some bald eagles.  I’m worried that the nesting pair near the boat launch is not going to have any chicks this year because they are not staying on the nest.  I believe by this point there should always be one tending the eggs and both have been off the nest at the same time.  I’m hoping to get out more this week and hopefully see more species of migratory ducks because last week was a slow week for ducks.  I will try and post again by the end of the week about my trips.  Hope you enjoy the photographs.  Until next time.   

Friday, March 20, 2015

Migratory Duck Season Underway

This past week I have spent a lot of time out at the Bashakill Wetlands watching for migratory ducks.  I have also been out to the other reservoirs in my area.  It has been slow but I have seen a fair share of different species.  Including ringneck ducks, common mergansers, hooded mergansers, common goldeneye, mallards, black ducks, and tons of canadian geese.  I did get a couple of good photographs of male ringneck ducks, but I did not manage many other photographs this week.  The last couple days were not as good as the previous couple due to the temperature dip and the open water freezing back up. 

Hopefully warmer weather is coming and the ice will finally melt away.  I believe that the next couple of weeks should be great for migratory ducks especially if the ice continues to melt and more water opens up.  If you can, you should try and get out and see these beautiful ducks.  I have seen a few bald eagles each day I've been out, but none close enough to photograph.  I’m hoping that this weekend will produce more migratory ducks in the area and I may take a trip into the black dirt area of Orange County New York to see if I see anything.  Until Next time.       

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Winter Weather

I didn't have many chances to get out this week, due to job interviews and the weather.  However I did go through some of my older pictures and found two that I liked.  So I will post them.  One was a black capped chickadee in my backyard.  The other was a black duck from last week.  

I am looking forward to getting out again soon.  Hopefully the weather is better this week, because Winter Storm Thor seemed to last forever here and ruined the start of the week.  This week’s weather looks more promising so hopefully nothing changes.  Enjoy the images.  Until Next Time.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Eagle Season Nearing The End

I awoke this morning to a snow storm, so I decided to go through some photographs from the week.  One of the photographs I liked was a Black Capped Chickadee photo, the only problem was it was snowing and a snow flake made a large blur by the Chickadee.  The other photograph I believe is an American Black Duck.  I liked the duck photograph because it was different because it was pruning itself and it kept closing its eyelid.  

This week was a slow week for bald eagles.  The count was down and they were uncooperative.  However there were a lot more ducks around.  So it appears that migratory duck season has started in this area.  I am looking forward to taking a trip out to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge this duck season.  I have not been home this time of year in four years due to college, and I have never been there during the duck migration periods.  I would also love to photograph some owls this year, and the fields on the Liberty Loop Trail at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge might be the place to see some.  I have never photographed owls before and I would love the opportunity too.  They really are interesting birds and they have always eluded me.  Hopefully I will get out more soon.  Until Next Time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

High ISO Test

With the Bald Eagle numbers so low recently,  I decided to run a test to see how much noise high ISO’s would introduce into my pictures.  By using the higher ISO’s I was also testing much faster shutter speeds than I normally shoot with.  I found that 3200 ISO introduced a sizable amount of noise into the photograph.  I will probably try and avoid using that high of and ISO anymore when shooting wildlife.  1600 ISO seemed ok but it did introduce a little noise as well, at least for my camera.  The rest of the lower ISO’s seemed less significant in the amount of noise they introduce in the photograph.  However I found that 200 ISO was the clearest of them all, but 400 and 800 were not much worse than 200.  

For a while I was actively avoiding shooting shots with an ISO higher than 400 but I believe now that I can get away with using up to 1600 ISO and still get a nice clear shot.  I have not looked into using noise reduction software in post processing, but I know there are some out there.  Hopefully this will help my wildlife photography out, because often my photographs are blurry or I miss shots because the shutter speed is too low.  So using the higher ISO should allow me to use faster shutter speeds and should allow for more clarity with motion photographs.  

I included some of my test shots of birds by my feeders.  One shot is of what I believe is a white-throated sparrow hopping along the ground, and it was taken with 3200 ISO.  The other photos of the blue jay and the tufted titmouse were taken at 1600 ISO.  The harsh lighting did not help the photos any, but I believe that the higher ISO is not really as big an issue as I once believed.  At least now I hope I won’t be afraid to use high ISO, because I think getting the picture is more important than missing it because I was afraid to introduce noise into the photograph.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions, or leave your thoughts on the use of high ISO in wildlife photography.  Until Next time.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Low Bald Eagle Count Last Few Days

I traveled out to the reservoir the last two days and both days I only spotted two eagles each day.  This is way less then the previous weeks count.  The water level has gone done a lot and maybe that is part of the reason for the low numbers.  I also went looking along the Delaware River and the Lackawaxen River and didn't see any eagles.  The ice build up along the rivers is crazy this year.  I can’t remember the last time the rivers were so covered in ice. 

I did get to look over my pictures from Friday and almost all of them were overexposed.  I did however do some post processing on a few of the photographs to at least show what I got to see.  At one point there were two eagles together next to each other and one of them was dipping his head in the water I guess trying to fish along the ice.  Another eagle landed about 10-20 feet above me, but the sun was behind him so he was back-lit.  However to me it was a neat angle and the photo still had enough light so the eagle was not just a silhouette.  

Last week was a very good week and hopefully the bald eagle count will go back up as this week continues, so I can see more of these magnificent birds.  Enjoy the photographs.  Until next time. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bitter Cold, Great Day for Bald Eagles

Yesterday was a slow day out at the reservoir.  There were some bald eagles, but they were staying put, and were to far away for a shot.  Today however was much better.  At one point there were eight eagles in one tree together.  They were also much more active and landing on the ice.  However the super bright light was an issue.  A few clouds would have been good today.  The sunlight was causing problems not only overexposing the eagles, but the ice in the background.  The lighting was just so harsh not many of the photographs were coming out.  Not sure if I could have done anything better but there is always next time.  

The bitter cold was the worst part of today.  The wind chill was in the negative thirties and my fingers were freezing.  I do were gloves but they have open fingers to allow me to grip the camera and to focus the lens.  This weekend looks bad for photography.  There is a winter storm and ice coming so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to photograph anything.  

It will give me the chance to look at the images I took today though and post them.  Hopefully some of them will come out and not be overexposed.  The photographs on this post are more from a couple days ago and are more or less a sequence as the eagle came in for a landing.  I hope everyone enjoys them.  Feel free to comment.  Until next time.     

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cold Morning Well Worth It

I arrived at the reservoir at sunrise today and the eagles were there again.  When I first got there it was still a little to dark to be photographing eagle’s but they were putting on a show.  No one else was there to see it either.  It was beautiful, the fog was rolling off the water, the sun was peering over the tree line, and both ducks and eagles were present.  It was hard at first to photograph them due to the fog, but it started to clear off once the sun was up.  What made it really challenging was the cold.  The thermometer was reading negative eleven at the reservoir.  However the cold did not seem to be affecting the eagles.  

I was not counting how many eagles were there but it was close to a dozen or so, plus plenty of mergansers and black ducks.  I am Looking forward to going back tomorrow for another chance to see it all again.  The one photograph is from yesterday of the eagle rubbing his beak on the branch.  The other one is one of the flying shots from today.  Hopefully ill get a chance to look them all over and post more soon.  Enjoy the photographs, and feel free to comment.  Until Next time.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bald Eagles!

Yesterday while I was out running an errand I passed by the reservoir and there were ten bald eagles on the ice.  So I went back to the reservoir in the afternoon and only saw two eagles.  None were close enough to photograph.  So this morning I went back and there were eagles everywhere.  They were finally here and they were cooperating.  They were on the ice, flying around, and close enough to photograph.  Some were even close enough to photograph with my 250 mm lens.  I’m hoping they stick around because the weather for the next few days is supposed to be good.  This year has been a slow year for eagles in the area, at least for me and I was so happy they were finally here.  There was one eagle today that was acting funny.  He was rubbing his beak up and down a branch.  Not sure why but it was interesting to watch.  Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day.  Until next time.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bird Photography Tips and Tricks

The last few days have been freezing cold, windy, and snowy.  So I have not been out to do any photography.  I am hoping soon the weather will break and I will get out again.  Tomorrow does not look any better.  The weather man is calling for negative 30 degree wind chills so I will probably not be out much.  So in my down time, I decided to write about tips for photographing birds.  I hope these tips help.  If anyone has any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment.  Until next time.      

Bird Photography Tips:

  1. Photograph birds in direct sunlight
In my opinion the best lighting for birds is direct sunlight.  Sometimes too much light can be bad, but overall I find bright lighting to be the best.  It also allows you to use faster shutter speeds in order to capture birds in motion.  Normally around 1/500th of a second or faster. 

  1. Get birds to come to you, don’t go chasing after them
For most small birds the trick is to get them to come to you, using either food or calls or both.  Obviously this wont work for all birds but most small birds will come to food.  Also you will want an area with natural perches for them to land before they go to the feeder.  You don’t want to photograph them on a feeder.

3.  Use your car or a blind to get closer to the subjects 

Blinds are great but cars normally work just as good.  Using cars or blinds help cover your presence and the birds are less wary of cars and blinds then people.  I also find that you can sit real still and birds will still come.  But if you move to much they will fly away.

  1. Avoid sudden movements
Sudden movements will scare the birds off.  So move with caution and with a steady pace.  If you’re walking and see a bird, you should not change the pace you’re walking at.  Sudden changes will alert the bird and it will fly off.

  1. Avoid making loud noises
Noises will also alert birds to your presence and scare them off.  In order to photograph anything you should avoid talking or making any noise.  If you’re in a car I recommend turning the car off if possible. 

  1. Don’t wear bright colored clothing
Try not to wear bright colors.  The best thing to wear would be camouflage, but you can also wear dark dull colors like green, brown, or grey.         

  1. Try to catch them in action
Catching birds in action is the best way to get good shots.  Try to photograph them when they are landing or taking off, or if they are pruning themselves or other actions.  But remember in order to do this you need fast shutter speeds. 

  1. Set your camera to aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode 
Setting your camera to aperture priority allows you to manually set your aperture and will auto adjust shutter speeds to ensure the proper exposure.  You must be careful though, because this can cause your shutter speed to go to slow and won’t be conducive to photographing birds.  Shutter priority mode allows you to set the shutter speed to ensure fast shutter speeds.  You still must be careful though because doing this can cause your images to be dark.  So you may need to raise your ISO or change aperture settings to allow more light in. 

  1. Set your camera to continuously shoot
Doing this will allow you to take bursts of photographs, maximizing your chances for great shots.  On Digital SLR cameras you can take as many pictures as you want so take tons of photographs and during post production figure out which are the best.  

  1. Consider the background
Having a dark or neutral background is the best.  It causes the subject to be the focus and having a distracting background can draw away from the subject. 

  1. Get at eye level with the subject
If it is possible try to get at eye level with the subject.  This makes for more appealing photographs.  However this is not always the case.

  1. Focus on the eyes
Focusing on the eyes is important because if the eyes are not in focus it draws away from the face of the subject.  Having eye glint is also important because it gives the subject a sense of life.  In addition focusing on the eyes is the best way to ensure the image of the subject is sharp and in focus.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Photographing Small Birds at my Feeder

A couple of weeks ago I decided to set up a few bird feeders at my house to see what would come.  It has been fun watching all the critters that come to the feeder.  I was surprised by the shear number of animals that come. Including cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, dark eyed junco’s, woodpeckers, black capped chickadee’s, tufted titmice, sparrows, squirrels, and even a large cottontail rabbit was outside yesterday enjoying the food.  I used to set up feeders and use a blind to make it easier to photograph wildlife.  However due to the large amount of snow on the ground I cannot put out my blind.  So I decided to just walk outside and stand there mostly still and photograph whatever would stay.  I was surprised to find that most of the birds got used to me being there and didn't seem to care that I was there.  Only the blue jays and cardinals didn't like me being outside.  Even the squirrels after a while came to the feeder.  I’m assuming the woodpeckers won’t come either with me outside but I didn't see any while I was outside.  

When photographing small birds on a feeder you don’t want to photograph them while they are on the feeder, but you want to put places for them to land that are appealing when you photograph them.  I plan on adding some branches or something.  I do have a wood pile but all the branches that I put up have died since the last time I photographed at my feeder.  I have also been out eagle watching a few times, but I have not seen any the last few times out.  It has been a bad year for eagles for me.  It’s the first time I have not gotten at least one nice photograph of an eagle during the winter in at least ten years.  I hope everyone enjoys the photographs.  Feel free to comment.  Until next time.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Downy woodpecker

On my last trip about a week ago I did get one nice photograph of a downy woodpecker.  I have been consistently seeing one every time out.  However they seem to always avoid being photographed. They always seem to hide on the back side of the tree, or climb where you can't get the shot. But I did capture one shot of him doing a little dance like motion, where he was bobbing side to side.   I'm hoping that I can soon get back out and do some more photography. This is the first year in a while that I have no photographs of bald eagles. I have seen plenty now, but nothing within range.  I know that the season here is short and coming to and end.  So I would really like to get some nice photographs before most of them fly back north.  I will post some more shots after my next trip. Hopefully the weather cooperates and I get out soon.  Enjoy the photograph. Until next time.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rainy Day

I took a couple more trips out since the last post.  The bald eagle count has been low, but the weather has been very cold.  Even though the eagle count is down the trips were not uneventful.  I have been seeing a pair of cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, dark eyed juncos, black capped chickadees, sparrows, a downy woodpecker, and a red bellied woodpecker.  The male cardinal has cooperated, but the female has not been where I could get a shot of her.  

Also I did get a shot of the red bellied woodpecker that I was happy with.  Today has been a rain out but I’m hoping to get out again soon.  The rain did give me a chance to go through my photographs from the last few trips at least.  I was very satisfied with the way some of them came out.  I am really hoping I start to see more bald eagles soon, but if they don’t decide to show up at least ill have fun photographing the smaller birds. 

The weather report for the coming week does not seem promising but hopefully I will get a few good days.  Hope everyone enjoys the photographs. Until next time.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Small Bird Extravaganza

I know it has been a long time since my last post.  But I have now graduated from college and have more opportunities to go out and photograph wildlife.  On my trip yesterday I was looking for Bald Eagles but I didn't see many.  The numbers have been low so far this year, and I'm hoping they get better soon.  The few eagles I did see were not in range to get a shot.

However while I was out I did see an abundance of small birds.  I saw a downy woodpecker and a red bellied woodpecker.  Also there was a pair of cardinals and probably a dozen or more blue jays.  There was also many other small bird species including dark eyed juncos, sparrows, and black capped chickadees.  I was surprised that I did not see any nuthatches.

Overall it turned out to be a fun day, and I am looking forward to seeing more Bald Eagles this year.  From my trip I did get some nice photographs of small birds.  Included in the post our my favorites.  Hoping to get out a few more times this week and get some more photographs.  Hope everyone enjoys the photographs.  Until next time.